Auction House Tips

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This is one of the worst areas to buy in.

Auction Houses by their very nature are there only to make a profit by selling items on consignment to them. Occasionally they sell items belonging to them but you as a buyer, or potential buyer, have no access to the actual owner. We have to rely on descriptions given in a catalogue and attend a viewing of the lots, usually held the day before and actual morning of a sale.

If items are not expected to reach a high price then practically no effort is made to check if items are complete or even if they are damaged sometimes. Many times there is no comeback on such lots. 

Items that are considered valuable may be highlighted in a sale as such to attract a lot of attention, these too may have faults glossed over or some touching up work done. Know your stuff and bid accordingly, don't get hyped into the auction fever as it usually does not end up happily.


1 - Is the item complete

2 - What condition is the item in and what condition is the packaging

3 - Are there any repro parts

4 - Have there been any repairs

5 - If the item is unusual ensure that you have confirmation that it is a genuine official release

Vectis and other auction houses work on the principle of if you don't ask we won't tell, many fakes and unlicenced items go through their sales and maybe due to lack of expertise knowledge these items end up in collections with buyers paying dearly for the privilege. If there is an item you think is unusual do a search to see if the auction house has sold one before, if there is no search ring them up and ask them.

I mention Vectis as they are the most prolific UK toy auction house but as such the most fakes and dodgy toys are sold through them, they have little specialist knowledge in these areas. The biggest UK seller of Jaws teeth, TV models diecast, Aston Martin, Octopussy plane and Tuk Tuk, all these are unlicenced.


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Auctions are a phenomenon because at any one time a lot buyers are focused on only one item and this can cause normal well balanced buying methods to escape out of the nearest window!

BEWARE OF PROPS - only buy props from auction houses if full  written provenance is suppied with them. Many small prop firms and reproduction outfits regularly slip dodgy props into sales.